Kansas finished 15th among all states in well-being for children, according to the 30th edition of the KIDS COUNT® Data Book, released Monday by the Annie E. Casey Foundation. Kansas Action for Children believes Kansas can do more and that it came close this past session.

“We were drawn to our health ranking,” said John Wilson with KAC. “We’re ranked 24th in the country. We obviously think that we can do better than 24th. One of the policy solutions that we think can help improve our ranking is for the state to finally expand Medicaid. This year, we nearly ended an eight-year refusal to expand Medicaid. That would have brought health insurance to nearly 150,000 Kansans.”

Though low-income Kansas kids are already eligible for coverage through Medicaid or SCHIP, it’s important that their parents be covered, too.

“We have decades of research now that shows that when adults have coverage, their children are more likely to get the care that they need, that they’re more likely to see their doctors or receive preventative care, receive immunizations, all those sorts of things,” said Wilson.

Additionally, for those who struggle economically and must use outside childcare, they often need coverage, too.

“Many childcare workers and early childhood educators in our state don’t have health insurance,” said Wilson. “Many of them are self-employed. By expanding Medicaid coverage, we are actually helping people who care for children.”

The Kansas House of Representatives passed a bill expanding Medicaid during the session, and a majority of senators indicated they supported the measure as well. Unfortunately, Senate leadership blocked a vote by that chamber in the 2019 session, though they have promised to revisit the issue in 2020.